Juli Niemann: Libya's impact on oil prices

Demonstrators protest against the regime of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi outside the Libyan embassy in Berlin, Germany.

TEXT OF STORY

JEREMY HOBSON: Now let's get to the situation in Libya and the effect it's having on oil prices. U.S. crude is up almost $7 this morning at about $96 a barrel. That's a two-and-a-half year high.

Juli Niemann is an analyst with Smith Moore and Company. She's with us live now from St. Louis as she is every Tuesday. Good morning Juli.

JULI NIEMANN: Morning Jeremy.

HOBSON: So it seemed like oil markets were relaxing a little bit after Egypt's regime collapsed. Why is what's happening in Libya so concerning?

NIEMANN: Well the market's had been blowing off the revolts today. Another day, another despot downed. But you're looking at this one is an OPEC producer. About 2 million barrels a day is what on average they've been producing. Which is not a huge producer, but operators are shutting down and evacuating, and a very slow restart time. you just don't go back in and throw on the switches again. So that production is going to be out. Now short run -- Saudi Arabia can pick it up here. There are other OPEC producers that can't pick it up, but the high implication is that there's more unrest headed into the Middle East, and that's where you're seeing prices really shooting up now. Supplies security is being factored in.

HOBSON: OK now Juli, I don't usually drive because I live here in New York, but I was at the pump this weekend here in the northeast and it was $3.21 a gallon for the cheap gas, which seemed like a lot to me. At what point will what's happening in Libya send prices at the pump here in the U.S. higher?

NIEMANN: You're going to be seeing it immediately, simply because producers were swallowing it to some extend in terms of commodity prices. Station operators operate with a weekly load of gasoline with money from last week. They know prices are going up, they're going to have t hike their prices now to pay for what's coming because they're operating on a shoe string. So you're going to see it at the pump almost immediately.

HOBSON: Juli, what's the price of a gallon of gas out there in St. Louis?

NIEMANN: Right now we're looking at about $3 going up to $3.15 but it is headed higher. Definitely. We have a lot of refineries here.

HOBSON: Juli Niemann, analyst at Smith, Moore and Company, thanks so much.

NIEMANN: You bet.

About the author

Jeremy Hobson is host of Marketplace Morning Report, where he looks at business news from a global perspective to prepare listeners for the day ahead.

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